For SFPUC Chief Nursery Specialist Bree Candiloro, a typical day at the office includes assessing the health of the plants, checking the SFPUC’s nursery and facilities to ensure everything is working properly, and seasonal nursery activities. This means spring is sowing; summer and fall is seed season, and in winter, plants go out for planting. And everyday includes cleaning, cleaning, and cleaning.
“Our ‘start clean, stay clean’ nursery practices are thorough and time consuming but worth it,” said Candiloro. “Maintaining systems of cleanliness and disease prevention are part of every day here at the nursery.”
Candiloro’s work at the SFPUC helps protect the watershed lands surrounding the water reservoirs. The SFPUC nursery team works very hard to provide clean, healthy plants for the SFPUC Natural Resources team to use in landscape and restoration projects.
“The plants that go out to wild lands are binding soil to prevent erosion, providing habitat for animals, and cleaning the water with their roots,” said Candiloro. “The 30,000 plants we are growing for the new Alameda Creek Watershed Center Garden will introduce our neighbors and customers to the local native flora of the Alameda Watershed.”
Candiloro said getting to know the plants helps her feel connected to the land, that the connection is protection for the land. “Equally important, we provide space and activities for community to be involved in a positive way,” she said. “Hopefully that involvement will ripple out into positive feelings about the SFPUC and what we do.
For Candiloro, representation means being strong in spirit, so the individual can represent their truth without being placed inside a box of who others think they should be. “Representation means space for expression, in a respectful manner, and to allow for our voices to be heard and recognized,” she said. “Representation also means listening to oneself and others, and staying quiet when it’s another’s turn to speak.”
Candiloro shared that she is thankful for others women’s shoulders she can stand on and to be humble and grateful for the privileges she has been offered. “This is a time to be generous to other women so they may prosper during hard times,” she shared. “This is a time to remember to do my best work without guilt because others have fought for me to be a working mom.”
Candiloro further shared how it is important to celebrate all the members of her team across the SFPUC during Women’s History Month. “And to recognize that women, as individuals and as a group, bring specific experiences, perspective and knowledge to the industry. And that diversity of experience and knowledge is what helps us to solve hard problems,” she said.
When asked what advice she would give young women interested in the utilities industry, Candiloro provided this insight, “Work hard and work smart because it is the right thing to do, not because you are trying to impress someone. Respect yourself and your perspective on the world. Know that it is okay to occupy your space and feel good about how you decide to go about your job. Most of all, reflect the respect you deserve onto others. Help us all lift each other up. It costs us nothing to give praise where it is well deserved. If we are strong in spirit, no one will bring us down.”